When the Dallas Stars needed goaltending help a few weeks ago because of injuries to Darcy Wakaluk and Andy Moog, they decided to take out a loan, borrowing former NHL goalie Allan Bester from the Orlando Solar Bears of the International Hockey League.
The goalie they got is a most unusual man.
He is 31, has not played in the NHL since 1991-92 and, believe it or not, has no designs on staying in the league now.
"I'm an Orlando Solar Bear," he said. "I check out my team every day, to see how we played, to see who scored and how [goalies] Scotty [LeGrand] and Torch [Mike Torchia] played. I keep telling the guys here, 'Hey, my team won again last night.'
"I'm not thinking too much about a permanent job here. I've had a great deal in Orlando, so I'm not going to worry about what happens here. . . . I'm just trying to help Dallas win as much as I can."
What has happened in Dallas, where the Stars are trying to keep their playoff hopes alive, has been pretty good for the most part. Before Moog returned to action in last night's 6-1 win over Edmonton, Bester had started the previous 10 games and was 4-5-1 for a team that had 11 wins in 54 games before he arrived.
His 3.00 goals-against average was the best he had had in an NHL career that dates to 1983, when he was drafted by Toronto.
As for whether he stays with Dallas or returns to Orlando now that Moog is back and Wakaluk (hamstring) is ready to play, who knows? He already has been with the Stars longer than he anticipated.
"His future depends on him," said Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock, who says Bester has given his team an emotional boost. "He's played awful well here."
An early valentine?
Heather McDaniel is the only female official in professional hockey. During a recent minor-league game in Reno, Nev., she and another official were trying to break up a fight.
One official grabbed the player on the top of the pile and McDaniel grabbed the one on the bottom, and then it happened.
The player kissed her.
"I was stunned," McDaniel said. "My partner was livid that the guy did that to me, but I thought it was kind of funny. I had a hard time not laughing."
A seven-year veteran, McDaniel said the player already had been ejected for fighting. She saw no reason to pile on a gross-misconduct penalty and 30-day suspension.
"When referees take themselves too seriously, that's when they get in trouble."
They said it
* St. Louis Blues forward Brett Hull is happy that goalie Grant Fuhr has been able to play in every game this season, but Hull said Fuhr is getting a bit too much credit.
"He just stands there," Hull said. "I'm not saying it's easy, but you guys make it seem like he's some sort of super-human man."
* Right wing Rick Tocchet, who has spent time in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and now Boston, had this to say about how to go about beating the Penguins, who lead the Northeast Division.
"The team that plays Pittsburgh the best is the Washington Capitals. They don't give them respect. They go right after their best players. The secret is that if you're going to play them, you have to go hard at them. If they beat you, they're going to have to go through you."
Things to watch
* The Wayne Gretzky situation continues to simmer in Los Angeles, where the Kings have let it be known they're willing to talk about a trade for the right price. The trading deadline is March 20.
* Despite being shut out last night in Winnipeg, Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux has 47 goals in 48 games and has a chance to again join an elite group of NHL players who have produced 50 goals in 50 games or fewer. It has happened 12 times, twice by Lemieux.
Montreal's Maurice Richard was the first in 1944-45, with 50 goals in 50 games.